Humility and the Color Green


“You Know Where You’ve Been, But You Don’t Know Where You are Going” By Beverly Kuykendall

This was expressed to me as a warning many times by my mother as I was growing up. Now that I am an adult woman, I understand its meaning. It means to be careful what you leave behind as you make your way in the world. Everything we do will follow us, one way or another. We may think that we have gotten away with something, but in the end, it always comes out. Sometimes it’s a hard lesson. Just when we think it is all about us.

When we are younger and we do something stupid (and we all do!), we don’t think of it as life changing. We are all allowed some degree of leniency in our youth. We don’t expect the mistakes we make to mark us for the rest of our lives. But what if they do? What if our lives are impacted by it? What if the negative (or silly) actions in our past impose limitations on our futures? We must always be aware and consider all of our actions carefully, before we act. Think about your decisions and how they will impact your life…even the smallest of things can affect the future. If we are not careful, the change may not be for the good.

I remember traveling two weeks straight and making numerous speeches across the country for various agencies and organizations. By the end of my two week tour, I was utterly exhausted and glad to finally be headed home to Los Angeles from Atlanta. In my exhaustion, it “seemed” to me that every person I passed at the airport was bumping into me. Bump, “ouch”, bump “ouch.” I finally made up my mind, that the very next person to bump me would be in for a big surprise (as I was prepared to bump them right back.)

Then the time came to board the plane, people began crowding and pushing near the boarding area. Elderly people were being bustled about, young children were being separated from their parents as people were rudely pushing their way to the front of the line. What ever happened to the call for people who need a little extra time to board? Geez! Then, I saw her, out of the corner of my eye; a lady, aggressively pushing her way forward on my left. She had on a green dress. I thought to myself, not this time lady. I steadied myself. As she moved forward to pass me, she bumped into me, but I was a rock. I bumped her back as hard as I could; causing her to stumble back. I could feel her looking at me, but I would not catch her eye. I felt a little ashamed, but told myself it served her right (anything to justify my actions, right?).

Upon arriving in Los Angeles, I was surprised to hear someone call my name, “Ms. Kuykendall?” I looked to see a well-dressed, clean cut gentleman who looked vaguely familiar.

“Hi,” I said.

He went on excitedly and with a great deal of obvious respect, saying, “I’ve heard you speak at least three times. You are really an exciting speaker. I really appreciate your knowledge and your dynamic delivery.”

“Thank you,” I said and I extended my right hand to shake his.

“Oh, Ms. Kuykendall,” he continued, “where are you coming in from?”

“Atlanta,” I replied.

He went on to say that his sister was arriving on that same plane from Atlanta and that he would love to have an opportunity to introduce her to me. “Hey, Sis!” He was waving his arms to get her attention, and as I turned to say hello, (you guessed it) there stood the woman in the green dress!!!

The universe does indeed have a sense of humor. All I could think of were my mother’s words, “You know where you’ve been, but you don’t know where you’re going.” That one incident taught me a valuable lesson about my inability to predict the future. My mother’s warning had never been so well delivered!